Essay anthropology culture

These studies provided a better understanding of taboos and beliefs that impose certain rules for the moment of food consumption, like the constraint of food for pregnant or menstruating woman.

Cultural Anthropology/Introduction

Those studies concluded that the food supply of the subsistence economy and the income identified different caloric values for different social classes, namely, diets with proper protein and vitamin levels, for example, only contemplated economically favored layers. Subsequently, the first studies that looked at culture as a closed, functional and isolated system were developed and better structured. Questions related to survival and the relation of the individual in nature was posed.

Culture was perceived as susceptible to transformations, highlighting the development of capitalism and new technologies.

In other words, "the formation of taste in different cultures, status, prestige, advertisement pressure, religion, and the many aspects that guide food choices" [ 2 ] combine in different contexts and make culture dynamic. The first studies focusing on shifts in feeding habits due to urbanization, development of the agroindustry, and the entry of woman in the marketplace were in the s.

It is in this period that Brazil had its greatest boom in national industry, presenting a policy of development and aiming for the implementation of heavy and durable industry [ 2 ]. Facing these contextual changes, the aim was to comprehend and monitor structural transformations of the context. By keeping track of variations in the nutrition field, the researchers noted the difficulty in maintaining traditional ways of nutrition.

However, it was from the s that studies in urban areas were promoted and developed in Brazil; a period of intensification of the urbanization, modifying the social structure, the formation of metropolises and the development of jobs in urban areas. These aspects were important for the creation of postgraduate courses and broader reflections on the theme in the social sciences. Malnutrition was also another area of interest at the time, motivating government politics of nutrition and food.

Government funding agencies and the institutionalization of social sciences and broad academic production consolidated Anthropology and the development of studies related to nutrition. Research that tackled food organizations and consumption within families and, also, focused on survival strategies and priorities of household budget, could pinpoint the importance of nutrition as a basic component facing the organization and decisions of consumption.

These studies performed directly with the population under economic bias could describe situations and design projects with the Brazilian government.


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Other studies include the change of the Brazilian diet, so that Brazilians reduced the consumption of cereals and tubers, replaced carbohydrates with lipids and exchanged vegetable proteins for animal proteins. In this new configuration, the Brazilian diet included much more soda.

The result of this diet is an increase in obesity and chronic degenerative diseases. In addition to this, theories about nutrition as a symbolic and cognitive part in a line of thought that defines relations between organisms and food are elaborated. Therefore, feeding habits could be categorized, not globally, like logics related to economic rationality, to access, to food selection, factors which, alone, were insufficient to be explained, since nutrition is a cultural phenomenon, a holder of symbolic and cognitive substance related to social classifications, the perception of a human organism and the relations between said human and the substances ingested, active by means of a knowledge system and ordering principles that address the relation between food and the organism [ 1 , 20 ].

It is possible, in this way, to see the continuity and progress of the themes deliberated around nutrition according to the course of time and topics in vogue. With this, subject matters on income and food supply were associated with the nutritional value of the studied populations, revealing the precarious living conditions of the working class. The rekindled concerns of those scientists with the deterioration of life and health conditions of the working class, while capitalist expressions in expansion in the country, whose "miraculous" effects settled on capital monopolization and internationalization, on industrial expansion of selected sectors, on a broader adequacy of agriculture to monopoly capital, affecting the agricultural production pattern and income concentration, to the detriment of the working class.

Interestingly, Bleil [ 2 ] noted that not only has food culture been altered over the decades, but it has thus been nutritionally impoverished. In addition to the industrialized products, cassava and maize were also exchanged for the use of wheat, encouraged by the Brazilian government.

Along with advertisements, the products sold in big supermarket chains were seducing the population and thus configuring the area of food supply introduced by the Brazilian government. In a country where hunger is still a serious public health problem, this has made the situation of a large segment of the population worse. In addition, the consumer pays more. The price of bread, for example, is proportionally greater than that of cornmeal porridge.

How Culture Drives Behaviours - Julien S. Bourrelle - TEDxTrondheim

It is interesting to note that it has already been suggested to introduce maize in the preparation of commercialized bread, in order to reduce the price. However, portions of the population were absolutely against this measure. They supported wheat without knowing how recently it was introduced in the country's food history.

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Therefore, with the ever-growing industrialization and globalization, habits and the way food is accessed changed, and a new nutrition pattern was defined one that now is characterized by high quantities of animal fat, protein, salt and sugar, in addition to low quantities of fiber, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, among others making food a mere industrial product. Moreover, these industrialized products, rich in fats, are just as harmful to health as to the environment, still being marketed as a symbol of modernity.

This is how food and culture - is influenced by the accelerated process of industrialization. These changes affect the quality of the food produced.

Cultural Anthropology Essay - Words | Bartleby

New expectations arise while food choices must be more in line with the new lifestyle, unfortunately missing nutritional inputs from the previous dietary pattern. The modern mentality affects one's own eating habits, responding to new social pressures, selecting, consuming and using the new produced and available food.

Time and aesthetic optimization to those favored groups in Brazil. The studies performed in the s refer, in addition to the issues raised above, to internationalization and industrial food monopoly of the United States of America. Industrialization, therefore, brought frozen foods and fast food to Brazilian metropolises, acquiring a new configuration, giving new meaning to food in the modern era and translating the new symbolisms in society [ 22 ]. The demand for fast food or eating out marks the moment that the labor fragmentation of people lives took control of meal time.

Working in new urban centers has distanced people from their homes. Although the development in transport followed the evolution of other sectors, the rigidity of working hours made displacement difficult. Eating became a mechanical and careless action, which prevented the sensual and aesthetic appreciation of food [ 10 ].

Therefore, solutions were sought for this problem of time, in which fast food became a reasonable alternative to home-cooked meals, by sacrificing the pleasure of the ritual [ 2 , 10 ]. It was already possible to find frozen, precooked, flavoured, stuffed food in Brazilian grocery stores, characterized by multinational companies, replacing public markets with fresh food. This new model of food marketing demonstrates an even stronger separation between food and consumer, where the food processing becomes a mystery and the population only sees the final product, which means an entirely new view of the world and thus of the way of consuming food.

This new model of food marketing demonstrates the even more incisive division between food and consumer, in which food processing becomes a mystery and the population only sees the final product, which means an entire new world view and, therefore, food consumption.

However, it is important to emphasize that, currently, organs propose to carry out the meal from eating regularly and with attention, in appropriate environments and with company, in order to improve eating habits and to break with the modern food model. The benefits of adopting these guidelines are many, including better food digestion, more efficient control of how much we eat, greater opportunities to spend time with our family and friends, greater social interaction and, in general, better enjoyment of food [ 21 ].

This new food system limits the time dedicated to household supply and, in consequence, the preparation of meals using healthy food. Therefore, this new Brazilian food standard is characterized by an increase in the consumption of industrialized products [ 2 , 12 - 17 ]. While in the old days, when eating, people ate unprocessed natural food, whereas what they eat today is foodlike edible substances; nowadays it is clear that the time factor, allied with the process of urbanization and food industrialization, has contributed, directly, to changes of feeding habits, making people abandon homemade, and traditional, food and stick to what the grocery store provides, in other words, ready-cooked meals, and restaurant chains that serve fast-food [ 10 ].

Time optimization becomes a priority of modern life in large urban centres, redefining dining spaces and minimizing the importance of ritual, in which the modern individual exchanges lunch for a sandwich and soda, consuming them alone and standing in a snack bar.

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The affection existing in the meals among friends and family gives place to the satisfaction due to the quantity of food ingested in front of the television [ 2 ]. In addition to studies related to food industrialization, research oriented towards health and diseases that permeated dichotomous notions between weakness and strength, where the weakness was recalled in physical and mental aspects equally.

The idea that food should first have to do with the health of the body is relatively new and, I think, destructive it destroys not only the pleasure of eating, which would be rather bad, but also, paradoxically, our health. In fact, there are no people in the world who are more concerned about health and the health consequences of their food choices than we Americans - and there are no people who have so many diet-related health problems.

We are becoming a nation of orthopraxis: people with an unhealthy obsession for healthy eating. Additionally, western medical care started to be emphasized, which makes physical activity and weight loss desired by the population, being for health or aesthetic purposes. In this respect, the aspiration for consumption of healthy, natural food is pursued by the middle and upper classes so they can achieve the desired body aesthetic and individual well-being.

Health reassurance contained an argument about the harm of certain food contaminated, fat, high in cholesterol on the organism, linking to the origin of cardiac diseases, while the benefits of "healthy eating" refer to ingestion of fruits and vegetables, for their "vitamin" concentrating nature, still validating a slim and thin body, as aesthetic values of middle and upper classes, in contrast to the validation of a fat, "strong" body, always falling back on representations of the body of the working class, according to several studies that mention it [ 9 , 21 ].

Therefore, taking into consideration the desire of acquiring healthy food and also, the concern of sparse access to food, the subject of food security started to grow amongst academic studies and governmental applications. A focal point in this discussion is a reminder that after World War II, hunger started to spread across the planet. Food production increased with the Green Revolution, but that did not result in easier access to food. Issues related to technology and acquisition started, then, to be considered in social studies.

In addition to this, ecological disruptions were appearing and crop reductions together with modified climate alerted for dramatic shifts.

Cultural Anthropology: The Most Important Class that Any Undergraduate Will Take

From this concern with the social issue, several conferences and groups were assembled over the years to try to ensure improvements. In addition to those, there was also, the International Conference of Nutrition, held in Rome, , promoted by FAO and by WHO—World Health Organization—that traced the food security term encompassing access, quality, sustainable production and acceptable food culturally selected.

Later on, the Food and Nutrition Security UNSCN was introduced to the discussion, concerns about the health of the population and the access to health food. More recently Weaver and Hadley [ 23 ] discussed the movement beyond hunger and nutrition in a systematic review of the evidence linking food insecurity and mental health in developing countries reinforcing the significant problem food insecurity is in the developing world, and one that is likely to increase given the current global food crisis spurred by rising oil prices, conversion of food to biofuels, and reduced harvests in the wake of natural disasters.

Moreover, Rodrigues et al. Eating is a daily activity in the life of an individual regardless of their society. It is a phenomenon that covers physiologic issues, but, in addition to that, social, political, economic and aesthetic aspects.


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It is an everyday task that has profound impact on physiological and cultural aspects. Considering this, anthropology, as a scientific course, began to focus on the theme in order to study it as a complete social fact, where various schools managed to explain food as an institution or a kind of behavior. Pollan [ 10 ] emphasizes that the way one eats is one of the most powerful means that someone has to express and preserve their identity. To make food choices more scientific is to deprive them of their ethnic content and history.

Cultural anthropology, as a discipline situated between the social sciences and the humanities, is ideally suited to analyse critically the complex dynamics between mobile cultures and human mobility. This article, based on longterm fieldwork in Tanzania, exemplifies what an anthropological take on the interplay between culture and mobility may look like. Placed in their wider historical and socio-economic context, I discuss migratory movements and their cultural representations in Tanzania. An analysis of the ethnographic data reveals how imaginaries and social relations concerning mobility are materialized, enacted and inculcated.

The particular case of the Maasai people, who are entangled in an intricate web of cultural mobilities, illustrates the complexity of the issues at stake. Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation. Cultural Anthropology eJournal. Subscribe to this fee journal for more curated articles on this topic.